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Pittsburgh: She Dresses Up Nice

Pittsburgh long ago shed its drab steel-industry exterior. Now if only it could shed that stereotype. In due time, I suspect. The city has seen plenty of revitalization already, and more is on the way. (If you think an abandoned church turned brewpub was impressive, you haven’t seen neighborhoods such as The Strip or Lawrenceville: industrial age buildings redone and converted to shops, restaurants, art galleries and more.

The Design Zone runs from The Strip into Lawrenceville, from 16th Street to 62nd, and has over 100 shops, galleries, studios and professional services. The Strip was once the economic center of Pittsburgh, but as river transportation became less vital and industries moved away, many old buildings were abandoned and shops closed up. Today, however, it is a haven for a variety of restaurants and ethnic markets. Here you can find Italian-American baker Larry Lagattuta of The Enrico Biscotti Co. It is a must stop for the biscotti, bread, pastries or even a great sandwich lunch. But a chat with Larry is priceless. Besides being famous for his oven work, Larry is a collector of stories. People come to him when they want to keep alive–or even resurrect–a family recipe, and in the process of sorting it out in the kitchen, he becomes a sort of cookbook of these people’s histories. All these neighborhoods are like that in some respect, from the old warehouses around here to the magnificent buildings downtown (see some of my photos here) which often come with stories of industrial barons Carnegie, Mellon, Heinz and Henry Clay Frick. Walking tours are a must, shopping well advised, and sampling cuisine an endless pleasure.

Go kayaking downtown, get the scoop on the soup at the Andy Warhol Museum (he really is so much more than those Campbell’s labels, you will find out), and take in a Pirates game at PNC Park. Or brush up on your paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History with its stellar dinosaur exhibits. As of June you can see two T. Rex casts posed in a fight. As the museum press release puts it: “Dinosaurs in Their Time is the first permanent exhibit in the world to feature scientifically accurate, immersive, and detailed reconstructions of environments spanning the breadth of the Mesozoic Era—the Age of Dinosaurs, from 251 million years ago to 66 million years ago—arranged in chronological order and filled with actively and accurately posed real fossil specimens.”

Too good to miss!

Kevin Revolinski

Author, travel writer/photographer, world traveler. Writes about travel, hiking, camping, paddling, and craft beer.

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